Monday, November 24, 2014

divide and conquer

our family was all over the place this weekend! it was all fun, amazing stuff...but it makes me realize how often we are all TOGETHER and how much i LOVE that! it felt all "off" to be in different places.

pat left on friday for a guys weekend at JMU (where we went to school...and met!) he had a GREAT time with these guys...i love that they all still keep in touch! 
friday evening we suffered here ;-) by eating pizza and watching a movie (mrs. doubtfire! the kids were ROLLING! it was a great pick!) after letting the older kids do some christmas shopping at target.

saturday morning came quickly...i got up at 5 to that i could be back by 7 am.
rebekah, joshua and bailey were getting picked up at 7:15 am to go to an all-day event with our church. it's an incredible day! hundreds of people are put into teams and go all over the area doing "jobs" for people (that have signed up ahead of time to have teams come and rake leaves/paint/whatever job around their house they trust a group of strangers to do). they pay the teams for their work (whatever they think is fair). the teams work until the sun goes down. then they use the money to go to the grocery store and buy a months worth of groceries for a family. THEN they deliver the food to the family that evening! they walked back in the door at 10 pm. our small group was a team...and graciously offered to take our kids with them! i missed them so much...but thankfully was sent pictures throughout the day ;-)

so i was left with these 3 musketeers. ohmygoodness. we had so much fun!! they are so easy! and laugh all the time! and play so well together! we played LOTS of games of chutes and ladders. i did some chores.
we went back to target so that they could buy christmas gifts for their siblings. this is one of our favorite christmas traditions. they buy gifts for each other...EACH kid buys EACH sibling a gift with their OWN money. i was so amazed at how well they knew each other and at how generous they were with their money! precious. it's one of the most special times of our christmas...when they give each other these gifts.
and i surprised the heck out of them after dinner by saying, "let's go get ice cream!" :-)
it was a good day.

but it was even better at 10 pm when we were all back together under the same roof (pat got home a little before the other kids.)

Friday, November 21, 2014

thank someone

5 minutes and 23 seconds.
that's all it took.

i saw a cute idea somewhere last week that included these brownie sticks. the idea i saw was WAY cuter than what i whipped up, but i wanted cheaper and quicker than what i had seen.

i bought every bit of this at target (except the scissors!)
my kids are bringing them to their teachers next week.
it doesn't have to take a long time OR cost a lot, but you can still make someone's day!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

happy things

so far all this COLD and darkness has NOT gotten to me. every day that seems more light than dark in my heart is a gift...i'm taking so little for granted right now.

this "happy light" is part of my "plan of attack" for the winter. i turn it on in the morning when i'm reading. and i TRULY believe it's helping. now, it could just be a "placebo" thing (you know, where you THINK it's helping but it's just helping because you THINK it is). i don't care WHY...i'm just glad it is!! (some of my other plans of attack are not going so not eating sugar :/ i DO KNOW that helps...but can't get myself under control!)

my mom sent me this picture after that show a couple weeks ago...isn't he the cutest?!?
get ready to put this on pinterest (ha!) i realized the morning of joshua's football team part that we had done nothing for a coach's gift. and his coach's were AMAZING this year! target i went. new water bottles. a few Skor's candy bars. and a note printed out (and signed by HIM) that said, "I skor-ed BIG having you as a coach!"
challenging myself keeps me happy. pushing beyond what i think i can do makes me feel ALIVE. when i was in texas, and did that crossfit workout, one of the things we did was handstands and then lowered our bodies down onto our heads (with a mat thing underneath.) ultimately, the goal is probably to be able to do it all the way down to the floor. but i used a block (borrowed from the yoga studio at the gym) and it was definitely a challenge for me! try something. it doesn't have to be this...but challenge yourself physically in SOME way, and let me know how it goes!!
i LOOOOOVE having a double oven! i use it more than i thought i would! i made ALL these pumpkin goodies in 30 minutes!
my friend, megan, helped put on this amazing shop last week. all of the items were purchased from artisans and businesses to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. it was so beautiful! the shop AND the items and the hearts.

i got lots of christmas shopping done. AND did a little shopping for myself. this blanket is AMAZING. it's made by women in india rescued from slavery and they use sari's to make the blankets. it's SO soft and cozy and i use it ALL.THE.TIME.
see? still wearing it. what am i doing, you ask??
so. neither pat or i drink coffee. which is fine. but when people come to our house, we have no coffee to offer them. because we never think about it. but then feel bad when they are here. so we usually send them down the street to dunkin donuts (which DOES have good coffee, or so they say...)

anyways. when i was cleaning out our storage room the other month, i found this coffee maker. we got it when we got married. !!! we registered for it, someone bought it for us, and we've had it for 16 YEARS...from apartments to townhouse to house. STILL IN THE BOX until last week! i opened that thing up and made my first pot of coffee in my kitchen. i didn't drink a drop (hate the stuff) but, thankfully, rebekah likes it and she drank it for me.
 there it goes! first pot of coffee in the cassada kitchen. (yes, it's a 4 cup pot. like, super tiny. there is an update to this story coming...)
my bailey is a mess lately. so hard for all of us. negative, dramatic, just HARD. pat and i are trying everything we can to meet her where she is. we brainstorm all the time to see if we can come up with something that will meet her little heart where it is.

in one of my efforts, i printed out a super detailed coloring page for each of us. and we colored. side by side. for over 30 minutes. we didn't talk a ton. but we were just TOGETHER. i didn't let anyone distract me or pull me away. who knows if it met her heart or not, but it was an enjoyable time together and i'm thankful for it!
 a little sprint workout to keep us in shape. {they loved it, ha!}
 i have GOT to do a whole post on our grilled pizza's. we added a dessert one this past weekend! it was AMAZING!
and this one? she asked if we could be twins for church on our striped dresses and chunky necklaces...
this makes these boys SO happy. and, in all honesty, when they are just walking around you hardly notice because it's on the bottom of their head.
reading. makes us ALL happy!!
and this? a big amazon box, lots of tape and printer paper and at least a couple hours of imaginations running wild. they ALL were busy on it a different points and it made me SO happy!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

my heart

the days go by so quickly. they always have. seems like they always will. i walked around my house for 5 minutes one afternoon last week with my camera and caught all these images. my home is full of so many precious moments. i want to never take them for granted. 

oldest brother willingly, of his own accord, reading to youngest brother? so precious.
i don't even know what's going on here. but i just love that they are always so close together.

my heart continues to seek Him each day. i continue to feel unsettled and yearning for something more. but i'm slowly sinking into Him and waiting for His leading instead of standing ready to sprint at the starting line. i'm ready to say, "yes" but, in the meantime, i'm sitting at His feet and basking in His glory. if that's what i do til the end of my days, i will be content.

i so desire to live FULLY each day. but i want my days to reflect HIM and not me and therein lies the rub. stepping back to let Him shine forth is what rings true right now. i am more comfortable in days that i get to RUN forward, but a life that echoes His heart isn't often a comfortable one. and i'm uncomfortable these days just waiting and just listening and just soaking Him in.

i've framed a picture every fall of our kids...whoever they happen to be that year. they are all lined up on this piece and it takes my breath away every time i look at them all. so many memories. so many years (!!)

and those children brought so many sweet moments as they were babies and toddlers. and now we have turned a page. no more babies or toddlers. our days are full of conversations about conversations with friends, and things they worry about, and sometimes learning more from them than teaching them.

but still...drawing out their hearts like we always have, listening to them and watching them like we always have, and letting them be who they ARE like we always have.

and also...not getting to replace the batteries they asked me to (6 times!) until 2 days later, and giving them an impatient response because i chose to stay up too late and was grouchy, and maybe wanting them to be quiet instead of play so loudly (even though they are playing nicely!)

but it's our family and we are thankful for it every day. we are a mess but we love and forgive and keep trying every day.
i'm not sure i've ever struggled as much as i am this school year with feeling like i'm failing. trying to balance everything is taking all i have to not lose it most days. it's no one's expectations but my own that i try to live up to. and my own are the highest and most unachievable of all. it's so much easier for me to give grace to anyone but myself. this is not a good thing. i want to truly understand His grace in such a deep way that it's how i treat ALL of His creation - even myself.
the holidays are around the corner. the weather has changed. the days are shorter. the nights are longer (but i'm not getting more sleep?!? how does that work?? ;-)) even though i struggle with the darkness of the winter months, i do enjoy the cozy candles and blankets and closeness that those things foster in my home. {can you tell i'm trying to find things to be thankful for in this season ahead??}
we've been ONE for over 16 years. and we still have to fight for it. marriage is hard. but so worth fighting for.  i've never been one to settle for mediocre, and i'm certainly not going to in my marriage. pat and i have started reading this book together. we're only on chapter 2. but so far it's good :-) i'm so thankful for a husband that is always willing to listen to me and learn about me more deeply and strive to care for me in the ways i need to be cared for.

a marriage is made up of 2 people that are constantly changing and growing and learning...individually and as a couple. if you aren't intentionally trying to learn about each other's hearts and dreams as those years and changes go by, you will have hard time connecting deeply. there are sweet, "easy" seasons and there are hard, deep seasons...and everything in between. soar together through the easy ones...and hunker down TOGETHER through the hard ones. the key is to be TOGETHER...and you'll come out that way on the other side! we're in the middle of one of those hard ones but we are holding on and trusting Him to help us love each other well through it.
thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart today! i wish i could be here more often...but other things are higher priority right now and that's ok...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

back to my world

getting in around midnight on sunday night made my reality slapping me in the face bright and early monday morning a bit painful. but pat had done laundry and there were still a few groceries left so we were at least able to get up and started on our days.

then it was to school, and schooling those 2, and grocery shopping and wading through all the mail and email and piles of stuff.

and orthodontist appointments.
and homework. and i just ADORE that they ALL are mostly in this space all afternoon (unless it's nice enough to be outside. then they are OUTSIDE! either by their choice or by my INSISTENCE!)
sidenote: i used this book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) with all of my kids. actually, i can't remember if i used it with rebekah. i definitely used it with joshua...he did every lesson like he WROTE the book and he LOVED it. i did some of it with bailey, but it's a bit "old school" and she needed more frills and color so i supplemented. lincoln? nope. just trying to survive each other. then threw him in school and hoped for the best. he did AWESOME at learning to read. we'll leave it at that. sawyer? i think i might have tried? i can't remember because...LINCOLN. and now it's levi's turn :-) he's doing great! (we're on lesson 6. of 100. i'll get back to you! ha!)
 this space. every morning the counter is clear. and every night it is clear again, but all day long it is FULL OF LIFE and i try to not let it drive me crazy ;-)
 sawyer was in a veterans day show at his school. and our favorite veteran came!

it's been a bit of a blur of a week. but i'm so very thankful for the life i've come home to.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

barn house reunion 2014

for some background on where we've come from: check us out here
we've had more reunions than this...but i found these...2010 and 2012 (bailey and sawyer in the first pics in that one?? TOO much!)

these are the girls i lived with in college. we lived in a house that looked like a barn. there were 8 of us. (it's a little complicated. i TECHNICALLY never lived with ali and becca. but we feel like we did. and we are the "barn house girls.")

when we were in college and living together, our lives all looked very similar. as the years go on...and on...our lives are taking different turns and our hearts are growing different directions and learning different things. but the love and acceptance that we have for each other NEVER changes. it only deepens. these are precious, lifelong friendships that we all value greatly.

i didn't take my camera and only took a few pictures on my phone. i chose to head down to texas a couple days early to spend some one on one time with a few girls. it was a GREAT choice. definitely more of a sacrifice, on my part AND on those that had to take care of my life here, but it was WORTH it!
{lincoln left me a note for every day! SWEETEST! meant SO much to my heart!}

i left wednesday, got to chat with a dear lady for 4 hours (4 hours!) on my flight to Austin. and then got to spend a sweet evening with christy and her family. the next morning, i got to run all by myself for as long as i wanted...then did one of christy's crossfit classes (i loved it!)

{a room all to myself. it was such a beautiful space!}
 my view running...

THEN i headed into downtown austin to meet Colette. she used to live in Virginia and we became friends as young moms. we've stayed in touch and it was like NO time had passed (even though we hadn't seen each other in 6 years!) we ate lunch and then walked around Town Lake for 2 hours. we could have talked for MANY more hours, but our time was up. she encouraged my heart so much. friendships are SUCH a beautiful thing!
 i asked her to take a picture of me to send to pat :-)
then i went to Becca's house for that evening and night. and got to catch up one on one with another friend that i LOVE and spend a night in another beautiful space all to myself and got to run in the morning. i mean?!? so many sweet things! i was about to explode!!!
 AND...these are becca's sons!! kevin and greg (i was DETERMINED to be able to tell them apart...and finally got it!) they are almost 6 months old and spent the whole weekend with us. they were SO good and we all got plenty of time holding them!
 becca reading to them. she is the BEST mom.
the 6 of us!! mary and kathy couldn't join us this year. we did read an email update from kathy and we facetimed with mary.
 christy brought out a box of OLD pictures from college. that was entertaining for sure!

 facetiming with mary.
we spent most of our time around this table. talking, crying, laughing. we share EVERYTHING...the good, bad and the ugly. we pass kleenexes and chocolate and blankets when needed. we ask questions and just listen. i'm well aware that this gift is priceless and i hope that i treat it as such.
i wasn't really ready to go home. but my time was up. so i did.
got home to a sweet sign and brownies that said, "mom" in icing and the laundry done and a family that was SO excited to see me!

it was an amazing 5 days. i am so richly blessed.